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Can You Ship Perishable Food by Mail?

Ship food by mail

Yes, the holidays are about gathering in celebration with people we love and reflecting on another year gone by.

But let’s be real: it’s mostly about the food.

If you can’t be with your family or friends this year but what to share the joy of the season by cooking or baking something special, that’s a great gift idea. But how do you get it to them if your dish is perishable?

Simple: use dry ice.

Dry ice is the perfect way to send perishable foods by mail this holiday season – but you need to take special care if you want your precious cargo to arrive safe and fresh. Here are some basics to shipping with dry ice – if you need further help or explanation, contact us. Always remember to follow dry ice safe handling instructions!

  • Start with the right packing materials – Heavy duty corrugated cardboard, plastic, or wooden boxes will stay insulated, protect your food, and keep dry ice bags from breaking.
  • Add a Styrofoam lining – Constructing a Styrofoam liner for your shipping box will add further insulation and protection. A disposable cooler works great – just don’t seal it!
  • Pack to retain the cold – Wrap food in plastic or paper bags prior to packing. Pack the food and dry ice together tightly, using newspaper or cellulose to minimize gaps and provide insulation. Packs of dry ice should be on the bottom, followed by food items. Alternate between dry ice and food items, filling in gaps with bubble wrap and newspaper until the box is full. If you’re using a Styrofoam cooler, do not seal it completely as this can prevent the package from releasing pressure.
  • Double check your shipping address – Dry ice will eventually sublimate (disappear as it turns into a gas, since dry ice doesn’t melt); when it does your food will spoil.
  • Follow hazardous material instructions for shipping – This is the biggie: dry ice is considered hazardous material, so it needs to be marked properly prior to shipment. Ask for the following labels at your post office or from your courier (FedEx, UPS, etc.):
    • A label that says “Dry Ice” or “Carbon Dioxide Solid.”
    • A label that reads UN 1845 (indicates hazardous materials).
    • A label that indicates the net worth of dry ice in your container (keep track of how much dry ice you use!)
    • A Class 9 label – This indicates that the package contains dry ice – they’re free at most post offices and from your courier. Put the Class 9 label on the same side of the package that contains the UN 1845 label.

    Once your labels are complete, be sure to ask for the proper paperwork, which could include a shipper’s declaration (a slip that includes basic information about yourself and the recipient).

  • Other considerations – Dry ice lasts a maximum of about three days; overnight shipping is usually best, especially when shipping items like meat. Do not choose options that take more than two days to ship. And be prepared for extra regulatory costs – Call your local post office or courier for details.

Need dry ice to ship your holiday treats? We’ve got it available for pickup at each of our convenient Irish Carbonic locations in Buffalo, Rochester, and Columbus, OH. Contact us to learn more.

The Irish Family of Companies